Community group ready to pitch police policy changes to EBR Metro Council

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Police reform in Baton Rouge is something a number of community groups have talked about since last summer's tragic events, but one group is now a step closer to creating change by coming up with a list of policy recommendations it plans to present to the EBR Metro Council this week.

The group, which is made up of council members, police officers, education leaders, and community members, has been meeting almost monthly since August 2016 and is now set to present police policy changes to the council.

Launching after the shooting death of Alton Sterling and the ambush on law enforcement last July, the goal of the meetings is to bring about change in the Baton Rouge Police Department.

"We had a lot of conversation about the community's response to things, what should happen, and how things should happen, and mostly this committee was really focused on policy changes and recommendations," said Councilwoman Tara Wicker.

Possible changes include everything from eliminating potential bias, diffusing encounters with those with mental disabilities, and even calling for more transparency from the department. The hope is to improve BRPD and its relationship with the public.

"There's going to be an establishment of the community policing ambassador program that's going to be led and ran by the community again to actually serve as the implementation arm of many of these ideas and recommendations," Wicker added.

Perhaps the biggest piece of the plan centers on which officers are added to the force. One suggestion is to establish an incentives program to recruit and retain quality officers. BRPD Chief Carl Dabadie said this piece of the plan is vital.

"There are all kinds of avenues," Dabadie said. "Of course, nothing is set in stone at this point, but those are good ideas and incentives to recruit and get the best, youngest, and brightest to come to the BRPD."

The group has been open to anyone and John Pierre with Southern University said having so many voices at the table ensures all parts of the community have input.

"When we listen to each other and we bring valuable input, that allows us to be a stronger community," Pierre explained.

The final plan will be presented to the Metro Council this Wednesday and policies could potentially show up on the next council agenda.

"We're really excited about those recommendations that are coming forth," said Wicker.

Ultimately, the group hopes some of the policies it has come up with can serve as a model for police departments in other cities.

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